On October 15, 2015, the government of Myanmar and eight ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), a longawaited settlement aimed at facilitating political dialogue to end armed conflict in Myanmar. The agreement was heralded as a significant step in the country’s peace process. However, more than a dozen EAOs, including many that participated in successive rounds of ceasefire talks, chose not to join, or were prevented from joining, the NCA. In the past year, armed conflict between signatories1 and non-signatories to the NCA has persisted, and human rights organizations and journalists have reported significant abuses against civilian populations in Shan State and other contested areas.
Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (the Clinic) received a request to provide a legal opinion on whether abuses of civilians by NCA signatories in territories controlled or contested by non-signatories constitute violations of the NCA. With alleged abuses taking place since the signing of the NCA, this question has become relevant to a number of national and international actors concerned with civilian protection and the ongoing peace process.
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